Our guest today is inspiring Lauren Carey. In September 2014, she left the USA, corporate real estate job, family and friends, and at 27 years old moved across the world to become nomad girl. Since then, Lauren has taught English in a Thai government school, started a travel blog and met amazing people across the world. She was very kind to share her experience with us. Please, enjoy and prepare few questions 😉
Please tell us a little bit about yourself (background, country, education, hobby)
Hello Nomad Girls! My name is Lauren Carey, and I’m 29 years old (going on 30 real soon, eek!) from a small town in Massachusetts, USA. I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in English and one in Psychology. I love to read, write about my adventures, and most of all, take photos. Photography has been a hobby of mine ever since high school when I took a black and white course. For a few precious hours each week, I was able to develop my own film in a dark room. I was addicted from then on.
Why did you choose digital nomad lifestyle? What was the turning point to become a full-time nomad girl?
It all started in Boston, where I was working a 9-5 corporate real estate job. It was by no means a bad job, and I probably would be quite successful right now if I’d stuck it out. At the end of the day, I felt unfulfilled and unhappy with my monotonous routines. I wanted to see the world, and I knew it was now or never. With a little encouragement from others who had ditched the conventional life, I quit my job and went on a journey that led to the digital nomad status I have today.
Many girls who are just starting out are scared to quit their regular jobs. What advice can you give to them? What advice would you give to yourself back when you were starting out?
My road to becoming a digital nomad was a gradual one. I didn’t go from quitting my job to nailing down a remote job and traveling right away. I’ll tell you what I did do. To get my foot in the door and support myself abroad with some semblance of an income, I signed up to teach English in Thailand. This was the perfect starting point to a life of travel. What you have to realize is this: sitting at home and applying for remote jobs is nowhere near as effective as getting out into the world you want to live in, making valuable international connections, and getting jobs as a product of the people you now know.
If I knew then what I know now, I’d tell myself to be fearless. Once I put myself out there everything found a way of working out, and it was a welcome challenge and adventure rather than a scary endeavor with the potential to fail.
What is the most inspiring/coolest place (or thing) you have done or visited in the last year?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I think my favorite part of the last year was my 3-week solo trip around Southeast Asia. After 2 years of living in Thailand, it was my way of saying goodbye and seeing some places I hadn’t yet made it to. I visited Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines. Palawan, Philippines was my favorite by far – particularly the amazing island of El Nido, home to flawless Nacpan Beach. I thought I’d seen amazing water and beaches before, but El Nido took the cake.
3 unusual things you can’t travel without? =)
Let’s see. I suppose the fact that I travel with my favorite tea bags might be a little unusual. A good cup of tea is my favorite thing in the world! A tripod is another one – it definitely weighs me down and takes up quite a bit of space, but it’s worth it! The other thing I’ve gotten into the habit of traveling with is a coloring book – my current one is full of mandalas (coloring therapy is real!)
How do you cope with many challenges of being a nomad? For example, health issues & safety. What worked for you and what did not?
In regards to health issues, I consider myself a very lucky person and the whole time I’ve been living abroad, I haven’t had a single issue that required serious attention. That being said, I have primarily based myself in countries where healthcare is very reasonable. Thailand and Turkey, for example, are both extremely affordable countries. There is always the option of getting an expat health care plan through companies like Allianz Worldwide Care.
When it comes to safety, common sense and gut instincts are your two best friends. I’ve been traveling through countries where many wouldn’t, given the current state of the world. The wonderful thing is that I’ve found some of the most controversial countries to be the most kind and helpful. All you can do is be vigilant, rely on your judgment, and connect with people to spend your time with. For example, I hitchhiked 180 km in Turkey with a group of four last week, and it was an incredible experience!
From my experience, Southeast Asia is a great stepping-stone for anyone looking to live abroad, be it alone or with a friend. I’m a pretty big advocate for Thailand in particular, having lived there myself, but the Southeast Asian region in general sets you up very nicely if you’re starting out a bit low on funds. The cost of living is insanely cheap, there is a huge expat community, and if you ever really find yourself in a pinch, teaching jobs are available in abundance.
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Don’t forget to check more Interviews with nomad girls.